By Ron Bartanen
In Fort Benton, Montana, beside the Great Northern Railroad depot, and looking out across the Missouri River is a memorial-statue of a very special collie dog named Shep. Shep was a herder-dog, owned by an elderly shepherd. He made his first appearance at the depot as a casket was being loaded on a train heading for some place East for burial. He even attempted to board the train, but was restrained, and then followed the train until it was out of sight. The station-attendants thought nothing of it until the dog dug a spot for himself under the depot, from which he was able to keep vigil, awaiting each train. It was obvious that the deceased was the dog’s owner, and Shep anxiously looked for his return. Station attendants took it upon themselves to feed and care for the dog. Through six cold, snowy winters and five springs he would, with anticipation, greet the arrival of each train, looking for his master’s return. Then in January of 1942 the old dog was hit and killed by a train. Railroaders who had befriended and cared for the dog arranged a funeral for him, which was attended by most of the residents of Fort Benton, and buried him on a nearby hillside, overlooking the town. A sculpture was made as a monument and was placed near the depot, where it remains to this day.
Are we, as Christians, as faithful as was old Shep as we look for the return of our Master, Jesus Christ? Unlike Shep’s master, our Master will return. When God’s timetable is completed, “He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37) Though many years may pass, devoted Christians will continue to be “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 3:13). Jesus’ admonition to His disciples prior to His departure into heaven was, “Take ye heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the time is” (Mark 13:33).
The question is: Are you ready? Are you living expectantly?
- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://arthurcoc.com/